NEW DELHI: India will send a team of doctors to Italy on Thursday to collect swab samples of stranded Indian students for testing before they are brought back here, health ministry officials said on Wednesday.
A team of four doctors -- two microbiologists and two public health specialists -- from the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will leave for Rome on Thursday night.
The officials said the Indian Embassy in Italy has contacted Indian students in the country and asked them to reach to a designated venue where their samples would be collected.
Over 300 Indian students are in Italy at present, according to an official.
The health ministry said the Government of India is undertaking measures to ensure safety and security of its citizens in Iran after it became clear that the country was facing a COVID-19 outbreak.
Indian nationals in Iran include pilgrims, students and fishermen, it said.
On March 7, 108 samples were received from Iran.
These samples are being tested at the AIIMS laboratory.
Also, six scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been stationed in Iran and they so far have collected swab samples of over 400 Indians stranded there, an official said.
Equipments and reagents have also been dispatched to enable them to setup a lab.
"The first batch of 58 evacuees from Iran arrived on March 10 with 25 men, 31 women and 2 children on board. All evacuees are asymptomatic at present," the ministry said.
So far, India has evacuated 948 passengers from COVID-19-affected countries.
Out of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belonging to countries like Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, it said.
The government on Wednesday asserted that it was focusing on bringing Indians stuck in Italy and Iran facing "extreme situation".
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in India has risen to 60, with 10 fresh positive cases -- one each from Delhi and Rajasthan and eight from Kerala -- being reported since Tuesday's update, the ministry said on Wednesday.